The Mikado

The Mikado

Nov. 3, 8 - 9, 15 - 17 at 8 p.m.,

Nov. 2, 10 at 2 p.m., 8 p.m.,

Nov. 4, 11, 18 at 2 p.m.

Agassiz theater

Directed by Katherine E. Moon '14

Produced by Anne E. M. McGrath '13, Amelia H. Ross '14, and Allison A. Ray '14

In a theater season dominated by dark musicals like “Next to Normal” and “Sweeney Todd,” the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert and Sullivan Players’ production of the comic operetta “The Mikado” is a definite change of pace. The story, which follows the love between Nanki-Poo, heir to the throne of Japan, and Yum-Yum, a schoolgirl, is rife with absurd plot twists and outlandish circumstances.

“We wanted to do an extremely historically faithful show,” said stage director Katherine E. Moon ’14. Moon’s desire to keep to the original extends beyond the acting to both the production’s aesthetic—the show includes Japanese dance fans and hand-made costumes—and its light-hearted spirit. For example, a few of the jokes were tweaked to keep the humor fresh. The song “As Someday It May Happen,” for example, is a list of people one of the characters finds obnoxious, and this production’s rendition includes “the hipster from the suburbs who wears all those gaudy clothes /and won’t admit to liking things that anybody knows.” The show, which runs through the weekend of The Harvard-Yale Game, also manages to sneak in a few Yale jokes.

The production is also technically innovative. “Because we are a group that has such a small canon of productions, we put a lot of resources and a lot of thought and energy into the technical aspects,” said Chris M. Wankel ’13, a member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert and Sullivan Players and this production’s Mikado. Indeed, the ambitious set includes a massive cherry tree, pagodas, and a river that required the construction of a raked stage. The music is just as complicated. “Sullivan wrote pretty complex melodies and harmonies. There’s a particular song where George Baxter, Eli Kahn, and I sing a trio, the lyrics to which are actually a tongue twister,” said Kevin Q. Hilgartner ’16, who plays Ko-Ko.

Laura A. Peterson ’16, who plays Katisha, noted that elements of “The Mikado” are more ingrained in popular culture than people realize. “I knew the opening, ‘If You Want to Know Who We Are,’ and ‘Three Little Maids,’ [but] I didn’t realize they were from this. There’ve been a lot of those moments.” Peterson also praised the play’s fun spirit, calling it a “showy show.” Hilgartner agreed: “It isn’t nearly as stuffy as I think people imagine it to be. The comedy remains fresh to this day, the music is fun—it’s just a great, fun, silly musical.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:


An earlier version of this article misstated several facts about the production. The show will run Nov. 2 to 18 in the Agassiz Theatre. Katherine E. Moon ’14 is the stage director; Ethan T. Addicott ’14 is the music director; and Anne E. M. McGrath ’13, Allison A. Ray ’14, and Amelia H. Ross ’14 are the producers.


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